Mr. Jerome Gels
AA Chemistry

BA Biology

MA Education

MA Instructional Leadership

Mr. Gels is an award winning leader in education. He was named Administrator of the Year in 2017 by the Kentucky Association of School Administrators. He was also awarded Legacy Top Educator Under 40 in 2010.

Outside of school, Mr. Gels is a father to three beautiful children and the founder of American Legacy Tours.
Dr. Julie Whitis
BS Mathematics Education

MEd Teacher as a Leader

Dr. Julie Whitis comes to the Ignite Institute after serving as Dean, Assistant Principal, and finally Principal of the Kenton County Academies of Innovation and Technology. Prior to that, she taught science for 10 years at Simon Kenton High School where she also served as the science department chairperson and site based council member.

Outside of school, Dr. Whitis is a mother, outdoor lover, and musician. Additionally, she strives to be an innovative, student-centered educator who goes above and beyond for her scholars
Mr. Brian Noll
Assistant Principal
BS Mathematics Education

MEd Teacher as a Leader

Brian Noll has served as a teacher for the Biomedical Sciences and Engineering programs and as Dean of Academic Affairs at the Kenton County Academies. Mr. Noll is pursuing his Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and is a Google Level 1 and 2 certified educator. He is also certified to teach AP Calculus and PLTW Biomedical Sciences.

Mr. Noll resides in Northern Kentucky with his wife and two daughters. He enjoys traveling with his family, running on Northern Kentucky sidewalks or playing soccer to stay in shape.

Don Black
Instructional Coach
BS Business Management

Ed.S Educational Leadership

BS Education (Science)

Mr. Black started his career in business and marketing before making the decision to work in education. He has experience as a classroom science teacher, and is currently serving as Instructional Coach at the Ignite Institute. Mr. Black has been happily married to his high school sweetheart for 29 years and has raised three very creative sons.




Heather Johnson
Administrative Assistant
Mrs. Johnson has worked in education for more than a decade. She spent seven years in early childhood education as a Certified Administrator before transitioning to public education. Heather is passionate about empowering students to discover their destiny and equipping their parents to partner with them on that path.

She has three children and a husband of 28 years. Smiling is her favorite.

Jenni Kentrup
Administrative Assistant
Jenni has been married for 29 years to her husband Gary. They have 2 awesome sons, 2 amazing daughters-in-law, and 2 beautiful granddaughters. In her space time, Jenni likes to play games, be with her family, and serve as a children's pastor at her church with her husband.

Susanne Hemingway
Administrative Assistant
Mrs. Hemingway has been with Boone County Schools for 14 years. She currently resides in Northern Kentucky with her husband and their blended family of five. Mrs. Hemingway enjoys family activities, advocating for abused children and riding motorcycles in her spare time.




Amanda Dempsey
College Coordinator
BA English with Secondary Teaching Certification

MA English

Mrs. Dempsey has ten years classroom experience at both the high school and college level. She earned a BA in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing from Georgetown College in 2009. While at Georgetown, she completed her teaching certification for middle and high school English. Mrs. Dempsey went on to earn a MA in English from Northern Kentucky University and is currently working on completing her Educational Leadership Doctoral program. She is a 2019 Golden Apple Award recipient. Mrs. Dempsey has been married for ten years to her husband Geoff. They have two sons and a rambunctious chocolate lab.

Amanda Knochelmann
MA School Counseling

BA Criminal Justice

Ms. Knochelmann attended Northern Kentucky University for Criminal Justice and School counseling. She has always had a passion for human service. She firmly believes that reaching adolescents at an early age could positively impact the next generation and prevent future adolescent into adulthood crime. She volunteers in her community, and helps cultivate partnerships between aid organizations in South Africa. Ms. Knochelmann grew up in Morning View, Kentucky and has two dogs named River and Tucker. She spends most of her personal time focused on fitness and travel.

Amanda Bardo
BA Science

MA Special Education

MA Instructional Leadership

Ms. Bardo graduated from Thomas More College and Xavier University while studying education and school counseling. She has served in education for over a decade with experience in the classroom and in a children's home. Her vision is to empower every scholar to be a lifelong learner, achieve academic excellence, and advocate for their success.

Ms. Bardo enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and doing anything outside. She grew up in Fort Thomas, Kentucky and is blessed with a son, fiance, and a Newfoundland, Dashi. She has been doing crossfit for over six years and is very passionate about health and fitness.
Chris Bryson
College Intern Coach
MAT Education

MBA Decision Sciences

BA Mathematics

BA Philosophy

AA Drama

Mr. Bryson completed an associate in arts, two bachelor of arts, and two masters degrees from Thomas More University. Although he has been educating scholars in Career and Technical Education since the fall of 2012, Mr. Bryson also teaches decision science at Thomas More University and was awarded the University’s Outstanding Teacher Award for 2013. He is currently in his fifteenth academic year of teaching at his collegiate alma mater.

While a teacher at the Kenton County Academies of Innovation and Technology, he has helped form community partnerships for his scholars with the Northern Kentucky Industrial Partnership, UpTech, Gateway Community and Technical College, and the Northern Kentucky chapter of KYFAME. His work with KCAIT earned him the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2015. Mr. Bryson’s work in education has also been recognized in Cincy Magazine, as he was named an Outstanding Educators Winner in 2011. In his spare time, you can find Mr. Bryson under water, as he is a Certified Open Water SCUBA Diver. A shark cage dive near the Galapagos Islands has been his greatest thrill thus far. He is also an intense fan of Major League Baseball and a Cincinnati Reds Fantasy Camp alumnus. Mr. Bryson played baseball at Great American Ballpark during its inaugural season in 2003.
Emily Greene
Expanded Learning Opportunities Coordinator
BA Elementary Education

MA Educational Leadership

Rank I Principal Certification

Mrs. Greene is currently the Expanded Learning Opportunities Coordinator for Boone County Schools, where she has reigned over the NKY Makerspace for 3 years. Previous experience includes teaching in an inclusive Pre-K classroom, teaching in a 5th grade classroom, Gifted/Talented, and Technology. She was awarded Teacher of the Year in 2014 and received the Innovative Teaching Award in 2016. Mrs. Greene lives in Lexington with her family, where she enjoys baking, crocheting, and cheering on all things West Virginia!

Ryan Kellinghaus
Intervention Specialist
BA Science

MA Special Education

MA Instructional Leadership

Mr. Kellinghaus is a veteran teacher, who has also been an Assistant Principal, Principal and Expanded Learning Opportunities Coordinator. He has coached robotics, led 3D printing classes, taught coding workshops and launched the NKY Makerspace in 2015. Mr. K is a self-professed nerd, innovative maker, father of three (Karli, Max and Noah) and loving husband to DJ Kellinghaus. Prior to his 17 year career as an educator, Mr. K was an audio engineer, editor, entertainer and talent agent, working with such celebrities and companies as Jessica Simpson, Bronson Arroya, Shepard Fairey, Budweiser, UC Basketball and ESPN!

Kahil Mulla
Intervention Specialist

Mr. Mulla has served as an Intervention Specialist with Boone County Schools for many years. He enjoys being outdoors in his free time.

Beth Koch
Building Assessment Coordinator

Beth Koch is a Golden Apple Award recipient with a passion for Robotics and STEAM education. She has taught in Ohio and Kentucky. She has led students from all grade levels in Robotics programs for ten years, through NKU and Boone County Schools.

She loves project-based, hands-on learning experiences and her many roles as teacher, coach, mentor, data cruncher, assessment coordinator, networking specialist, robot chauffeur, and motivator. Her dream is to someday work for Disney, but for now, she'll just enjoy vacationing there.

Jim Mardis
Tech Support
BS Computer Science

BS Mathematics

MA Teaching

Mr. Mardis retired after 25 years with Toyota Quality Engineering. He spent 13 of those years at the facility that is now the Ignite Institute. Mr. Mardis grew up in Northern Kentucky and currently resides there with his wife and three children.




Scott Richards
Career Instructor
BS Marketing

Art Education Certification

MS Information Systems (E-Commerce)

MS Information Science

Mr. Richards has experience in Art Technology, Design, and Industry. He has experience as a professional Graphic Designer, Freelance Web Designer, and is co-owner of a photography and video production company. Mr. Richards has worked with public and private sector clients. He is an Adobe Certified Associate and has over 21 years experience in art and design.

Mr. Richards enjoys traveling, painting, woodworking, welding, and home improvement. He's from Cincinnati and currently resides in Fort Thomas with his wife and two children.

Jessica Isaacs
Career Instructor
BA Visual Arts Education

MFA Digital Design

Ed.S Educational Leadership

Mrs. Isaacs has 14 years experience as a Visual Arts Specialist at the middle and high school levels. She is an AP Certified instructor and an Adobe Certified Associate. She was awarded Teacher of the Year by the Florence Rotary Club and named Kentucky Colonel in 2017.

Mrs. Isaacs earned her Bachelor's Degree at the Mount Saint Joseph University and a Master's Degree from Warnborough College Ireland. She also earned her Ed.S at the University of the Cumberlands.

Mrs. Isaacs and her husband Greg are the parents of two beautiful daughters.

Kristen McKinley
BS Secondary Education

MA Secondary Education

Mrs. McKinley holds a Bachelor's and a Master's Degree in Secondary Education from Indiana Southeast. In college, she danced for the National Champion University of Louisville Ladybirds Dance Team.

Mrs. McKinley started her teaching career in Indiana in 2001 at New Albany High School. She taught there for ten years and coached the Bulldolls Dance Team. The team earned the title "State Champions" and "National Champions" under her direction. Mrs. McKinley has sponsored the Math Team, Student Council, and served as the treasurer of the PTO.

Mrs. McKinley is a certified group fitness instructor, a cheer/dance coach, and served as a PTA President for six years. She enjoys cooking, crafting, working out and spending time with her son and daughter.
Darin Smith
Social Studies
BA Journalism

MA Education

Mr. Smith earned his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from WKU in 2005, just as the internet was killing the newspapers. In 2013, he completed his Master's from NKU. His teaching career began in Adult Education at the Grant and Kenton County Jails, so don't mess with him! He has been teaching Social Studies for Boone County Alternative Programs, including the Imagineering Academy and Alternative Center for Education for four years.

Mr. Smith has the unique talent of being able to tell you, instantly, how many letters are in any word, which is completely useless in real life.

Casey Wolfe
BS Secondary English Education

MA Secondary English Education

Mrs. Wolfe began teaching at the Kenton County Academies after graduating from the University of Kentucky in 2015. She is working towards her Ed.S degree. She is AP certified and a Google Level 1 and 2 certified instructor. She was a member of the Kenton County Play Team and has served as the Chair of the Academies' Ambassador Program committee for two years.

Mrs. Wolfe and her husband are both Kenton County graduates and met while attending Turkeyfoot Middle School. They have a daughter named Laken.




Adam Klaine
Career Instructor
BS Industrial Science

MA Secondary Education for Teacher Leaders

Mr. Klaine earned his Bachelor's and Master's Degrees from Western Kentucky University. Prior to teaching, he worked for a custom furniture and cabinet company and served as an Architectural Production Specialist for Drees Homes. He taught Project Lead The Way courses and Construction at Simon Kenton High School for two years prior to joining the Kenton County Academies of Innovation and Technology in its inaugural year.

Mr. Klaine has served as the co-coach of KCAIT's VEX Robotics teams, leading them to earn several accolades including qualification for the state tournament and an invitation to be ambassadors for the World VEX Tournament. Mr. Klaine was the Freshman boys' Soccer Coach and Assistant Varsity Coach at Simon Kenton High School for five years. He and his wife Abby have two daughters and enjoy doing DIY home remodeling projects together. Adam spends his free time in the woods, hunting and fishing.
Jeff Hartline
Career Instructor
BS Industrial Technology Education

AAS Mechanical Engineering Technology

Army National Guard Combat Engineer

Manufacturing and Machine Design Engineer

Mr. Hartline has 22 years of experience as a Machine Design and Manufacturing Engineer and three more years experience as a Fabrication Lab Project Developer. He spent six years in the Army National Guard, 15 years as a Volunteer Firefighter/EMT and 3 years full time.

Mr. Hartline is 1996 Champion of the Ohio State Fair Demolation Derby and competed twice on TLC's Junkyard Mega-Wars TV show as "Crusher".

Alyssa Leimenstoll
BA English with Secondary Teaching Certification

MA Teacher as a Leader

Ms. Leimenstoll is a proud graduate of Northern Kentucky University. She has experience teaching in Kenton County's Engineering and Women's Engineering Academies. She's an AP Certified English teacher, working towards certification for dual-credit. She is also certified in Project Lead The Way's Computer Integrated Manufacturing Course.

Ms. Leimenstoll was the 2018 Excellence in Education Award Winner for the Kenton County Academies. She has published work in the Kentucky School Leader for her work with project and motivation-based instruction. Ms. Leimenstoll grew up in the Cincinnati suburbs, but now resides in Cold Spring, Kentucky. She is an avid reader and sports enthusiast.

Ian Olano
BA Mathematics

MA Curriculum and Instruction

Mr. Olano earned his Bachelor's Degree from the University of Louisville and his Master's Degree from the University of Cincinnati. He is working towards an Applied Mathematics Master's Degree with a focus on Statistics at Eastern Kentucky University.

Mr. Olano served as a lead mathematics tutor and teaching assistant for the College of Engineering at the University of Louisville before he began his teaching career.

In his spare time, Mr. Olano spends quality time with his wife and two wonderful children. He is very involved in his church, and his favorite sport is soccer. Mr. Olano's favorite sports teams are the Liverpool FC, FC Cincinnati, and the Louisville Cardinals.




Melissa Insko
Career Instructor
BS Business Management

BS Education (Science)

Ed.S Educational Leadership

Mrs. Insko has experience teaching English, and has served as the Teaching Professions instructor. She is an AP and dual-credit certified teacher who served as a founding member of the new Teaching & Learning Pathway for the Office of Career & Technical Education through KDE.

Mrs. Insko was a 2018 Golden Apple recipient from the Northern Kentucky Education Council. Mrs. Insko and her husband, Matt, have been married for 19 years and reside in Ohio. They also have a 17-year-old daughter, Allison, who is a senior in high school. During her spare time, Mrs. Insko is an avid reader and crafter, loves camping, and participates actively in her church. Her favorite TV shows are Ken Burns’ documentaries, but she also likes watching reality shows such as “Swamp People” and “Deadliest Catch.” Fun Fact: Her favorite sport is downhill skiing!
Justin Cann
BS Chemistry

MA Teaching Secondary Education in Chemistry

Mr. Cann has been teaching Science for 11 years. He began in Jefferson County, then went on to work in Grant and Boone Counties. Mr. Cann grew up in Northern Kentucky and went to Simon Kenton Schools. He attended the University of Louisville, where he received his Bachelor's degree in Chemistry and a Master's degree in Secondary Education of Chemistry.

He enjoys being outdoors, sports, traveling, and spending time with his family. He and his wife Emily have a son named Nate, who keeps them very active!

One interesting and proud moment is that Mr. Cann qualified and competed in the Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship in 2018 with over 350 other competitors.

TJ Pelfrey
BA Mathematics

MA Mathematics Education Specialist

Mr. Pelfrey taught math for seven years at the Kenton County Academies of Innovation and Technology. He attended Northern Kentucky University and was a part of the Honors International Teaching Fellows. He received his Master's degree from Western Kentucky University and an Education Specialist degree from Northern Kentucky University.

When he is not in the classroom, Mr. Pelfrey loves spending time with his family. He has been married for eight years and has three-year-old twins and a one year old. He and his family love Disney and trips to Disney World. He teaches Sunday School and is involved in his church.

Robert Dalzell
Social Studies
BA History and Government

MA Secondary Education

Mr. Dalzell is a veteran educator with 22 years of experience at the middle and high school levels. He graduated from Morehead State University with a Bachelor's degree in History and Government. He received his Master's degree in Secondary Education from Northern Kentucky University. His favorite historical periods to teach would be the Antebellum South and World War II through the end of the Cold War.

He is married to Elizabeth Dalzell and has two children. Maddie attended Earlham College, while Ethan attended Union College. When not watching History Channel documentaries or Football games, Mr. Dalzell enjoys spending time on the farm with all of his barnyard animals, especially the chickens from Cluckingham Palace.

Dawn Reinhard
BS Chemistry

MS Physical Polymer Chemistry

Mrs. Reinhard grew up in Baltimore, MD, where she attended Loyola College and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. Although she initially wanted to pursue a career in research and development, her passion for Science education became evident as she enjoyed being a graduate teaching assistant for college laboratory classes during her Master’s program at Virginia Tech (GO HOKIES!). After graduate school, Mrs. Reinhard began teaching General, Organic, and Allied Health Chemistry courses as an Associate Professor of Chemistry at Virginia Western Community College and held the position of Assistant Dean of the Natural Science Division.

Mrs. Reinhard is a "recovering" band and softball mom. Her two daughters, Brandi and Stephanie, are leaving the nest and completing their college degrees at NKU. In addition to cherishing the time spent with their daughters, Mrs. Reinhard and her husband, David (who is originally from Puerto Rico), enjoy cooking international cuisine, traveling to the Caribbean, and doting on their two Rottweilers.

Morgan Raab-Kelley
BA English

BA Secondary Education

Mrs. Raab-Kelley obtained a Bachelor's degree in English and Secondary Education from Northern Kentucky University. Mrs. Raab-Kelley began teaching in 2018 and has been involved in various classroom experiences for four years. She studied creative writing and Irish literature during her study abroad experience in Ireland. When Mrs. Raab-Kelley is not teaching, she enjoys traveling, watching movies, and making candles.




Sarah Brown
Career Instructor
BA Development of Children in Education

MA Instructional Technology

EdS Instructional Leadership

Mrs. Brown has been in education for over fifteen years, serving in North Carolina and Kentucky. She is most passionate about computer science and preparing scholars to be future leaders. Mrs. Brown is a Google Level 1 and 2 certified educator and is AP certified in Computer Science Principles and Computer Science A. Mrs. Brown is also certified to teach all four PLTW Computer Science courses.

Mrs. Brown enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter. She is active with her church, and serves as a Stephen's Minister. Her free time is spent managing her family farms or enjoying activities along the coast of North Carolina.
Justin Cann
BS Chemistry

MA Teaching Secondary Education in Chemistry

Mr. Cann has been teaching science for 11 years. He began in Jefferson County, then Grant County, and finally Boone County. Mr. Cann grew up in Northern Kentucky and went to Simon Kenton Schools. He attended the University of Louisville and received both a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry and a Master's of teaching in secondary education of chemistry.

He enjoys being outdoors, sports, traveling, and spending time with his family. He and his wife Emily have a son named Nate, who keeps them very active! One interesting and proud moment is that Mr. Cann qualified and competed in the Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship in 2018 with over 350 other competitors.
Todd Garland
BA English

MA Teaching

Mr. Garland attended the University of Kentucky and Thomas More College. He loves to read and he loves dogs. "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog is too dark to read." -Groucho Marx




Sara Anderson
Career Instructor
BS Biology Focus Microbiology

MS Secondary Education

Ed.S Education Specialist

Ms. Anderson began working at the Kenton County Academies of Innovation and Technology in 2013. She is excited to be a part of the Ignite Institute staff. Ms. Anderson teaches Project Lead The Way Biomedical Sciences. She is licensed to teach Biology and Chemistry. She created the History of Diseases course.

Ms. Anderson grew up in Indianapolis and moved to Northern Kentucky in 2008. She will forever be a Hoosiers fan!

Adam Abston
World Language
BA Spanish

BA French MAT Spanish

National Board Certified Spanish

Mr. Abston has been teaching with Kenton County Schools at Simon Kenton for 4 years. Previously, he worked at Holmes for the International Baccalaureate Program.

While attending Morehead State, Mr. Abston participated in GSP. After graduating, he taught in Mexico at the University of Guanajuato for 2 years. He also led summer Spanish language programs in Mexico, Spain, and Chile. In his free time, Mr. Abston enjoys planning for his next trip abroad.

Nichole Mathews
BS Biology and Secondary Education

MA Reading and Writing

Nichole Mathews is pursuing a doctorate of education degree. Prior to teaching Biomedical Sciences at the Kenton County Academies of Innovation and Technology, Mrs. Mathews had a 14 year tenure as an eighth grade Science teacher. She has been a part of various Science leadership networks in the state of Kentucky, and has served as KTIP teacher leader and coach.

Mrs. Mathews is blissfully married, and has four children. She loves to lift weights and train with her husband. She is also an active member of 7 Hills church. Mrs. Mathews enjoys boating, spending time at the beach, riding motorcycles, making home improvements, and crafting.
Michael Kerner
BA Mathematics

MA Integrated Studies

Mr. Kerner started his career with Boone County Schools in 2005. He has taught everything from Algebra I through Calculus III. He earned his Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from Transylvania University, as well as a Master's in Integrated Studies from Northern Kentucky University. He also earned a Master's degree in Mathematics from Western Kentucky University.

Mr. Kerner is excited about what the Ignite Institute is capable of being, and he looks forward to working with what will no doubt be the best students in the area. When he is not teaching. Mr. Kerner likes to spend his time training for and completing triathlons. He says he "might not be the fastest person out there, but there is nothing like swimming, biking, and running back to back to back."

Lori Knapp-Lindsay
BA English with Secondary Teaching Certification

MA English with Certificate in Rhetoric and Composition

Mrs. Knapp-Lindsay holds her Bachelor’s degree in Secondary English Education and Master’s degree in English. She is currently taking coursework toward her Rank I. She is an AP Literature certified teacher who has been teaching English with the Boone County Schools for eight years.

Volunteerism is a passion of hers and a mainstay in her classroom; she has led students in over 30,000 hours of community service aimed at improving their connections to the community and compassion for others.

She lives in Florence with her husband and two sons. Mrs. Knapp-Lindsay enjoys gardening, entertaining, and reading.

Crystal High
BS Chemistry and Environmental Science

MS Environmental Science

MA Teaching Secondary Education

Mrs. High graduated from Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Environmental Science. She also holds a Master of Science in Environmental Science degree from University of Cincinnati and a Master of Arts degree in Teaching from Thomas Moore College. Mrs. High taught Chemistry for ten years and other science courses including physics, environmental science, anatomy, and ACT Science Prep at Ludlow High School.

Mrs. High is happily married and has two young boys, and a dog. She is actively involved with her church and enjoys the outdoors. Fun Fact: Mrs. High participated in rodeo events such as roping and barrel racing throughout grade school and her college years.
Gannen Cogswell
Social Studies
BS Middle and Secondary Education

Mr. Cogswell grew up in Northern Kentucky and went to Turkey Foot Middle School then Dixie High School. He attended the University of Louisville where he earned a Bachelor's degree in Middle/Secondary Education with a focus on social studies and a minor in History. Mr. Cogswell worked at Turkey Foot for two years teaching 7th grade social studies. Fun fact is that he's a big Cincinnati sports fan.